“We can’t underestimate the significance of this development – it is absolutely brilliant news for the Playwork sector. We have been working closely with SkillsActive and other stakeholders to develop and promote Playwork as a profession and campaigned for the importance of play and playwork to be recognised by the government. The Standards finally acknowledge playwork as a distinctly recognisable profession.” Jacqueline O’Loughlin, Chief Executive of Playboard
Playwork has been recognised as a distinct profession within the children’s workforce in Northern Ireland.
The recent publication of new Minimum Standards for Day Care and Childminding for Children Under 12 by Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) gives official recognition to it as Jacqueline O’Loughlin, Chief Executive of Playboard explains.
She said: “The Standards set out the requirements for registration and inspection of child care providers and ensure that all children, parents and providers have a clear understanding of the minimum standard of care they can expect to receive and provide. One of the main Standards relates to the quality of staffing and stipulates the type and level of qualifications staff are expected to have attained. These new Standards acknowledge Playwork qualifications as being the most appropriate qualification for out of school setting staff along with recognition of equivalence to early years qualifications.”
Siobhan Weir, SkillsActive’s Northern Ireland Manager agrees, adding: “Employers and managers of child care services are constantly telling SkillsActive that Playwork is a highly skilled profession and that Playworkers enrich and enhance the lives of children in their care. Through the Playwork Education & Training Council Northern Ireland (PETCNI) which SkillsActive facilitates, we have been working alongside PlayBoard to ensure the views of our employers are heard and Playwork qualifications are valued and accepted by government and registration authorities.”
The news has been greeted with enthusiasm by employers in the sector too. Diane Koplewsky from the Sleepy Hollow Group, congratulated SkillsActive and PlayBoard for helping to elevate Playwork qualifications in Northern Ireland: “I have seen the play and playwork landscape changing, with the popularity of after-school clubs and holiday playschemes and the beginning of a cultural change that will see acceptance of children playing in the heart of our communities. Linked to this is the growing acceptance amongst parents and stakeholders that children need to take risks to learn and grow.
“Sector employers have embraced the move towards a professionally qualified workforce and there has been a change in perception of the Playwork sector and what it means to be a qualified playworker. These new Standards are evidence that Playworkers are an essential element of the children and young people’s workforce in Northern Ireland and that Playwork is at last recognised as a professional sector with real career options and pathways.”
The standards can be accessed at http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/index/phealth/sqs/sqsd-standards/sqsd-standards-care-standards.htm.